Despite a career spanning decades and a list of films that any director would envy, Sidney Lumet never quite got the respect he deserved. His very first movie still ranks among his best: a near-perfect adaptation of the celebrated stage play 12 Angry Men. Henry Fonda stars as an unnamed juror standing alone against a seemingly guaranteed guilty verdict… and his slow, methodical deconstruction of the case serves as both a critique and an affirmation of our justice system. It opened today in 1957.
I’m not what you would call a huge Renee Zellweger fan, but it’s hard to hate her as the hapless heroine of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a perennial lonely heart who may have finally discovered her (literal) Mr. Darcy. As romantic comedies go, it’s held up quite well, and with a lot of help from Colin Firth and Hugh Grant as her equally hapless suitors, it now stands as one of the better romantic comedies of recent years. It opened today in 2001.
Horror movies rarely attain the status of instant classic — their scares need time to matriculate before we embrace them into the canon. One of the few exceptions to the rule was The Cabin in the Woods, a gleeful mashup that both embodied and sent up the genre’s cliches with the kind of affection that only true horror fans could match. Other send-ups like Scream demonstrated a quiet contempt for their audience. This one celebrated their love in unique fashion, and may have found its way to horror immortality as a result. It opened today in 2012.